St. John’s Plays The Regretta Roulette

Regatta Women's Row

Bowring’s Ladies Championship Crew St. John’s Regatta, 1949. Provincial Archives

In these wee hours of Wednesday, August 6th the city of St. John’s anxiously awaits the go-ahead of what will mark the 196th anniversary of the Royal St. John’s Regatta — North America’s oldest annual sporting event.

Affectionately nicknamed “The Regretta” by some, the city pauses it’s daily operations to make way for Quidi Vidi’s lakeside festivities. Boat races and beer tents for the adults, bouncy castles for the kids, and countless carnival-style booths of prize raffles and petty gambling suitable for the whole family.

With its monarchial roots, the Royal St. John’s Regatta’s history has been graced by such aristocratic presence as King Edward (1860), and Queen Elizabeth II in (1978). It’s safe to say the Royal Family strategize such visits, not because of its low priority status in their Royal planners, but rather their Disneyesque ethos of always leaving us wanting more.

But, as we patiently await their next ceremonial acknowledgement, we continue to celebrate the near two hundred year passion for competitive rowing, and indulging our drunken desires to spend big in hopes of winning that stuffed gorilla that shimmers in the sunlight of Quidi Vidi Lake.

There is one game, however, that still stands with the sweetest stakes and highest hopes of all who dare to participate, and that’s the game played twelve hours prior to the weather-pending green-light we set our alarms to learn.

The Regatta Roulette is played with passion and ambition by those who dare to treat their Tuesday night with reckless abandon, and set their eyes on the prize of a workless Wednesday to nurse that mid-week hangover, and relish in the celebratory family time of an advil, a bottle of water, and a lakeside lineup at the Ziggy’s fry truck.

Good luck, my friends and see you at the lake.


Ziggy Peelgood’s Famous French Fries sits Lakeside at the St John’s Regatta, 2003.

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